Heel or Toe? the PIVOTal question

November 25, 2016

As an amateur disc golfer, I have admitted to poorly using a tee pad for drive routes. I will admit, once again, to some ignorance regarding what happens to my plant foot as I drive. Here enlies another dichotomous microcosm to a disc golfer’s game that can be discussed: heel or toe (more accurately the ball of the foot) pivot point?

When I play disc golf, throwing a disc makes me revert back to baseball throwing mechanics. As a predominantly forehand driver, it makes sense as well as shows acceptable results. Trying to develop a functional backhand has shown that using this technique as a blanket concept is a mistake. If the forehand drive in disc golf can be related to pitching in baseball, then the backhand drive would be more like batting.

When batters swing, the pivot point each individual uses depends on both situation, and personal preference. Think of the most lethal power hitter you remember watching play. What was his pivot point? Guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome, and my personal favorite Ken Griffey Jr. all used a heel pivot point when in the batter’s box. Ball players like these were always a home run threat, and made a living off of their power. It is not uncommon however for any of these guys to have also led their respective teams in strike outs.

Conversely, guys like Ichiro, Dustin Pedroia, Kenny Lofton, Craig Biggio, and the infamous Pete Rose utilized the ball of their lead foot in a majority of their at bats. This was to both keep eyes on the ball, and to help control where those ‘seeing-eye’ singles found gaps. If you spend the time to find video of each of these players, it will show that they each have at-bats utilizing both pivot points. After all, versatility is the best attribute in any sport.

So, like many of the ‘A vs. B’ debates that circulate in the wide world of sports, there are many professional players who drive with a heel pivot. There are also professional disc golfers who have shown success with the ball pivot. Yes, there are still many players who do a bit of both depending on situation. Instead of an ‘end-all-be-all’ tirade, let’s look at some pros & cons for each pivot point so you can figure out which is better for you.

The Pros of pivoting with the ball of your foot:

  1. More control of release point
  2. Core is center of balance
  3. Can keep eyes on target longer
  4. Helps keep front shoulder down

Pivot Point

The Cons of pivoting with the ball of your foot:

  1. Sacrifices extra drive distance
  2. Easy to lose balance without practice
  3. Added torque/stress on lead knee
  4. Will destroy footwear faster

 The Pros of the heel pivot:

  1. Added power/distance
  2. Your weight is kept back
  3. Less stress to lead knee
  4. Balance is more reliable


The Cons of the heel pivot:

  1. Front shoulder wants to pull upward
  2. Eyes on target for less time
  3. Disc control issues
  4. ‘Grip-lock’ chance increases

It is important to keep in mind that drive distance is not always the answer to fixing your personal disc golf game. The next time you watch some footage from a disc golf tournament pay attention the the pivot points, and the players who utilize either option. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be the power player, the control player, or a bit of both depending on the hole. Let us know what works best for you, and why.

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2 comments on “Heel or Toe? the PIVOTal question

  1. Keil Endress Dec 5, 2016

    Honestly depending on which throw I use, backhand or forehand, I use both pivot points. For my forehand, I use heel. For my backhand, I use toe. I feel it doesn’t matter which way you throw, just as long as it works for you. Anyways, I just thought Id throw my opinion on the table but I like the article, and how it explains pros and cons, so thank you!

  2. Russell Gore Dec 8, 2016

    I have always been a toe pivot player. Because of this I have exceptional accuracy. At one point in my career I tried the heel pivot and after months of failure gave up. I would much rather sacrifice some distance and gain control anyways. In Kentucky and Indiana there are a lot of heavily wooded courses where control is needed.